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A Juggler’s Tale will look instantly familiar to you if you’re a fan of PlayDeads Inside and Limbo. A narrative-driven 2.5D adventure game, A Juggler’s Tale has much of the same DNA as its critically acclaimed sibling (it even feels a little too familiar at times). Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, after all, but this title can’t quite reach the same dizzying heights, making it a good game but not a great one.
A Juggler’s Tale focuses on the life of Abby, a puppet who escapes a life of exploitation and abuse. On her way, of course, she is helped by the puppeteer – our narrator – who saves Abby at several points during the story when she gets into a quandary.
A Jongleur’s Tale is played like a typical cinematic adventure game for the most part. You will wander through different environments – including swamps and villages – in which you will have to overcome numerous puzzles, obstacles and enemies blocking your path. The key difference, however, is that Abby is constantly held by threads, which proves to be both a blessing and a burden.
At the start of the game, you’ll encounter the first of many puzzles that essentially involves moving an object out of the way so the strings holding Abby don’t get caught. It’s an interesting mechanism because it effectively removes the entire “This character cannot jump over a tiny obstacle” restriction typically seen in games by focusing instead on what’s above you. Theoretically great, of course, but unfortunately the game ends up with very few deviations from the puzzle structure; Once you figure one out, you pretty much figure out all of them.
Aside from the puzzles used, much of A Jongleur’s Tale focuses on telling clay and environmental stories; You will come across a range of creatures and locations, such as giant spiders (hello, Limbo) and grumpy farmers. The narrator gives good context to the situations Abby finds herself in, and the rhyming structure of his dialogues adds a nice touch to the overall presentation.
Visually, the game often looks great, with breathtaking backgrounds with beautiful sunsets and weather effects. The problem is, like many multi-platform titles, this is objectively a less visual experience on Switch than you might find on other platforms. Characters and objects look awkwardly out of focus, and it’s often difficult to spot important items hidden on the floor that can frustrate your progress. On the other hand, though, although the screenshots we took don’t articulate this very well, the game has a motion blur effect that looks pretty good when you play it and adds a touch of realism to the game.
At just two to three hours in length, A Jongleur’s Tale is a lean experience with little fat on the bones (though it’s still a bit short for some). Still, it’s a shame that the developer relied on the same type of puzzle for much of the game, as it repetitions certain areas. If you’re a fan of games like Limbo and Inside, this is a nice alternative; Just don’t expect a game of the same caliber or quality.